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Credible evidence against Tytler: Nanavati

Vinay Kumar

No evidence against Kamal Nath; former Lt. Governor of Delhi Gavai and ex-Police Commissioner Tandon blamed

PHOTO: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

SEEKING JUSTICE: Relatives of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots stage a protest in New Delhi on Monday against the Nanavati Commission report.

NEW DELHI: The Nanavati Commission, which probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, has found "credible evidence" against senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler and said he "very probably" had a hand in organising the attacks. The report recommended action against Mr. Tytler, now Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.

On the role of another senior Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar, the Commission recommended examination of only those cases in which witnesses accused him specifically and yet no charge sheets were filed and the cases terminated as untraced. It said there was no evidence of the involvement of Kamal Nath, now Commerce Minister, in instigating the mobs.

However, the Government's Action Taken Report (ATR), tabled along with the Commission report in Parliament on Monday, has dismissed the observation that Mr. Tytler "very probably" had a hand in organising the attacks, stating the panel itself was not absolutely sure of his involvement.

"Probability not enough"

The ATR pointed out that in criminal cases, a person could not be prosecuted simply on the basis of "probability" and any further action would not be justified. It said Mr. Tytler was not mentioned as an accused in cases of arson and looting in three first information reports filed in the Bara Hindu Rao police station. After the completion of trial, 13 accused were convicted and one was declared proclaimed offender. In another case, all the 31 accused were acquitted in 1992.

Of the seven cases against Mr. Sajjan Kumar, now MP from Outer Delhi, two cases did not relate to the 1984 riots. The ATR said his name was not mentioned in other cases. In FIR 178/84 lodged in the Mangolpuri station, only one person made an accusation, which the Government would look into for appropriate action.

Delhi police criticised

PHOTO: V. SUDERSHAN

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Jagdish Tytler is seen outside Parliament House, after the tabling of the report in Parliament.

The Commission report, which runs into 339 pages and consists of two volumes, and the 15-page ATR made a number of general observations on the Delhi police and said the personnel remained passive and did not provide protection to the people. Timely action against those who indulged in riots could have saved many lives.

The one-man Commission, headed by the former Supreme Court judge, G.T. Nanavati, was appointed by the National Democratic Alliance Government on May 8, 2000 to inquire into certain matters connected with the riots, which occurred in New Delhi and other parts of the country on and after October 31, 1984 in the wake of the assassination of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

On the role of Dharam Das Shastri, a Congress leader of Karol Bagh here, the Commission said there was "credible evidence" that he instigated his men, Tek Chand Sharma and Rajinder Singh, to organise attacks. It recommended that the relevant material be examined and further investigation taken up.

Agreeing with the recommendation, the ATR said Mr. Shastri was not named an accused in FIR 867/84 and that his men were convicted by court.

While observing that there was a "colossal failure of maintenance of law and order" in Delhi, the Commission expressed dissatisfaction with the explanation given by the then Lt. Governor, P.G. Gavai, and the then Police Commissioner, S.C. Tandon. Mr. Gavai did not give as much importance as was demanded to the law and order situation and he could not escape the responsibility for its failure.

On Mr. Tandon's conduct, it noted that he ought to have taken strict action against the defaulting officers and given them directions to be very strict with the crowds. It found the attitude of the police force "callous," and the policemen on the spot "ineffective" as mobs indulged in looting and killings.

The Nanavati Commission agreed with the findings of the Justice Mishra Commission on the delay in calling in the Army to control the situation. There should be an independent police force, equipped to take effective and immediate action, it said.

While accepting the views of the Commission, the ATR said all State Governments and Union Territory administrations were being advised to take necessary action.

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